Hey everyone! If you’re like me and you struggle sometimes to find presents for loved ones and fellow bookworms (or future bookworms!), especially ’cause you procrastinated and held off the shopping until Christmas is almost upon us, then I hope this blog post will be something that will help you this season.
Having worked at a bookstore and seeing firsthand what is popular and what people love to read enough to buy, I’ve come up with a list of different books that should hopefully satisfy book lovers of all ages and genres in your life.
NOTE: I just wanted to say that in no way is this post affiliated with any company or store. These are my own self-formed opinions and recommendations and I don’t get commission for any purchases you may be inclined to make from reading this.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Fantasy | Sci Fi/Dystopian | Contemporary | Mystery | Poetry | Autobiography/Memoir | Cookbook | Middle Grade (9-12) Boys | Middle Grade (9-12) Girls | Young (6-8) Children | Picture books | Baby/toddler books
Shades of Magic series (individual or box set)
[from A Darker Shade of Magic] Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Poison Study series (individual or whole)
[from Poison Study] Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…
Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy box set + The Hobbit
[from The Fellowship of the Ring] The first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure THE LORD OF THE RINGS
In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power – the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord’s evil dominion.
Thus begins J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, which continues in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Note from Andge: For all age and sizes, Tolkien’s classic high fantasy adventure, especially in a cute box set, is perfect for reading by the fire on a cold winter’s day. And there are even younger reader editions for children who may be interested in the world of Tolkien for the first time ❤
Illuminae + Illumine Files series (individual or whole)
[from Illuminae] This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Scythe + Arc of a Scythe series
[from Scythe] Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Cinder + Lunar Chronicles series (individual or whole)
[from Cinder] A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (individual or box set)
[from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before] To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
Dumplin’ + Puddin’ (individual or whole)
[from Dumplin’] Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
Note from Andge: And guess what? The movie Dumplin’ starring Jennifer Aniston comes out on Netflix today! So anyone who enjoyed the movie should definitely see what the book (and its companion novel) is about 🙂
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”
Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.
Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.
The only thing is: they didn’t do it.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.
Love Her Wild + The Dark Between Stars (Atticus)
Love Her Wild is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, the young writer who has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of avid followers on his Instagram account. In Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun. With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distills the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind—and will awaken your sense of adventure.
The Sun and Her Flowers (Rupi Kaur)
From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.
Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
Note from Andge: This timely hardcover repackaging of the popular 2017 Goodreads Choice Poetry Award would make a wonderful present for poetry lovers – and even those curious about poetry!
Becoming (Michelle Obama)
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.
Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Note from Andge: Selling out copies faster than even the publishers anticipated in North America, this hot-off-the-press book may still be on someone you love’s wishlist this season!
The Good Neighbor (Fred Rogers)
Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.
The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.
Note from Andge: While this man is dear to me personally, it’s clear that his legacy has won the hearts of many, taking home the 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Biography! For young and old at heart, it makes a great nostalgic present of an amazing man.
Educated (Tara Westover)
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.
She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.
As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.
EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
Note from Andge: #1 bestseller in stores and winner of 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir, this may be the kind of memoir written even for those who don’t normally read non-fiction or autobiographies.
Set for the Holidays (Anna Olson)
Get set for holiday season success, with more than 100 savoury and sweet recipes from celebrity baker and chef Anna Olson.
When does the festive season begin for you? For Anna, it’s with the first pumpkin pie of the year. Pumpkin pie isn’t something she bakes on any old evening, so it signifies something very special when she does: the start of the holidays! In Anna’s house, the holidays are a time for coming together with family and friends, celebrating traditions, and making some new ones, too. In this festive cookbook, Anna shares the recipes she most loves to make during the holiday season–for occasions like a festive brunch, entertaining a crowd, a cozy supper, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, an elegant New Year’s evening–and sensational sweets such as holiday cookies, celebratory centerpiece cakes, festive pies and tarts, fancy bars and slices, and much more!
With every recipe is a spoonful of practical and supportive advice, including menu planning, make-ahead preparation, and hundreds of other hints and tips. Set for the Holidays will help add sparkle and take away stress from your holidays, so you can navigate the season with confidence!
Note from Andge: Aside from getting the privilege to meet Anna, this delightful cookbook has both baked goods and entrees/appetizers to help you with the Christmas frenzy. Trust me, I’m no cook, but this held recipes even I could use to turn out delicious foods.
Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook
Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook is packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food and new ways to love those leftovers. It’s everything you need for the best Christmas ever.
Inside you’ll find all the classics as well as tasty alternatives, including: salmon pate, apple and squash soup; roast turkey, goose and venison; nut roast and baked squash; best roasties, baked mash, parsnips, glazed carrots, four ways to do sprouts; gravies and cranberry sauce, meat and vegetarian stuffings; turkey risotto; Christmas pud, trifles, pavlova; chocolate logs, Christmas cake, mince pies, gingerbread, baked camembert, smoked salmon bilinis, hot buttered rum and many, many more delicious recipes.
Middle Grade (9-12) Boys
Explorer Academy series
Adventure, danger, and a thrilling global mission await 12-year-old Cruz Coronado as he joins an elite school for explorers.
Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world’s leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there’s more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him, and why?
Readers can get in on the excitement with puzzles and codes embedded throughout.
Note from Andge: Did you know this is National Geographic’s first fiction series? I mean, you get both the excitement of an adventure story combined with the knowledge and fun teachings from Nat Geo! Win-win, especially for any kid who may need a nudge in reading.
Trials of Apollo series (individual or whole)
[from The Hidden Oracle] How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
Middle Grade (9-12) Girls
Keeper of the Lost Cities series (individual or box set)
[from Keeper of the Lost Cities] Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.
Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.
Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”
There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.
In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.
The Land of Stories series (individual or box set)
[from The Wishing Spell] Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.
Young (6-8) Children
The Guardians series (William Joyce)
[from Jack Frost] The Guardians’ powers are given the ultimate test as they journey to the moon itself in this fifth and final chapter book adventure of an epic series from William Joyce.
The Guardians came together to protect the childhoods of all who dream, and they are a formidable team: Nicholas St. North, E. Aster Bunnymund, Toothiana, the Sandman, Nightlight, and Katherine have thus far prevented Pitch from fulfilling his nightmarish plans.
But Pitch and his nightmare men lurk on the fringes, gathering strength, stewing in hate, and the Guardians know their guard needs one more member if they are going to vanquish Pitch for all eternity. And once they find the last in their band, they’ll travel to the secret realm of the Man in the Moon, encounter armies of Moonbots, and face the greatest battle since the Golden Age; and that is just the beginning of this grand conclusion to a series most grand.
The charming first book in a new early-reader series, starring the spirited — and outspoken — Anne Shirley as she first arrives at Green Gables.
Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert need help on their farm, so they’ve adopted what they hope will be a sturdy, helpful boy. Instead, Matthew finds Anne awaiting him at the train station — imaginative, brash, redheaded Anne-with-an-e. With her place at the Cuthberts’ at risk — particularly if nosy neighbor Mrs. Lynde has anything to say about it — Anne will have to learn patience, understanding and what it takes to make Green Gables her true home.
Lovingly adapted by Kallie George with beautiful, nostalgic illustrations by Abigail Halpin, Anne Arrives is perfect for new fans of Anne and old.
Note from Andge: Who didn’t love reading Anne of Green Gables growing up? I sure loved her, and for those who wanna gift L.M. Montgomery’s classic story for younger readers, this is a great start to help them fall in love with Anne and PEI ❤
Magic Tree House box set
Jack and Annie’s very first fantasy adventure in the bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!
Where did the tree house come from?
Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner?
Here are some picks for all your purposes and needs. From stories with gorgeous illustrations and that prime your child’s imagination (Ocean Meets Sky) and teach them a heartwarming lesson (The Night Gardener), to reminiscing over lovable characters of old (Goodnight Anne) and laughing over a collection of mini stories wrapped in one book (Frozen, Disney Princesses), I think there’s a little bit of something for everyone in these variety of books.
And we can’t forget the youngest of us all, this Christmas season! Why not treat them to a good ol’ classic tale (The Night Before Christmas) or a new one that will make you laugh (When Santa was a Baby)? Or even better yet, why not cherish these moments with them wrapped up in a story that emphasizes togetherness during the holidays (The Spirit of Christmas)?
Note from Andge: It’s been one looonnngg post and I hope you found something useful somewhere this Christmas. As always, let me know what you think and I love chatting with you about books and gifting options! I personally think there’s no better present than a good book during the long wintry days, and to start lifelong readers while they’re young ❤